Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Guitar heroism

I hate guitar solos. Whenever some wisp-haired ninny takes a step forward to take a solo on their god forsaken AXE I just want to stick knitting needles in my ears and be done with it. Of course, given this fact it is inevitable that all of my favourite music - give or take one or two exceptions - was and is made by performers who conform fairly religiously to the old Buddy Holly and the Crickets 'three guitars and some drums' template.

This is not contradictory. Because a guitar can't be blamed for the nobwipe that it is attached to. It is only the conduit for the vision of the person who wields it. With a bit of sense and balance, you can RIGHTEOUSLY WAIL ON YOUR AXE, DUDE without it ever sounding like a case of, "RIGHT, HERE IT COMES, GONNA DO A BIG SOLO, THE BASSIST AND THE DRUMMER WILL JUST PLOD AWAY, HERE IT COMES, OH MAN I AM THE BEST". Jimi Hendrix is a good example of this. He spent a (short) career exploring the sonic capabilities of his instrument (snuk) but never lost sight of the ensemble.

He didn't do a load of dreary, pretentious old bloody guitar warbling, is what I'm driving at. And when he did, it wasn't so obvious that, "Oh This Is The Solo, Oh Hooray".

Reign in your worst exhibitionist tendencies, though, and as my iPod will confirm a guitar can be a magnificent and wonderful thing. A machine that kills fascists, even. However, keeping your playing held back and restrained should not be mistaken for not bothering with any showmanship.

Modern rock 'n' rockers are shamefully slapdash in this regard. When was the last time any of them really developed a top new guitar playing move? 1950s right up to the 1980s there were guitar playing moves left right and centre, as the following diagram demonstrates:

Three classic Guitar Moves (click for bigger)

Since the nineties, though, nothing. I blame Britpop. Bunch of middle class art school dropouts (or, in the case of Oasis, school dropouts) just standing there strumming away. Often it was the front man who had to pick up the slack, hence Jarvis Cocker's elaborate peacocking lope, Damon Albarn pricking about, Brett Anderson rubbing his nip-nips, or Liam Gallagher standing there looking mean. Let's make 2012 the year that Guitar Moves return! Let no lead guitarist leave the stage at Glastonbury this year without having sprained their ankle!

As ever, as a free service, I have decided to suggest a few possible new moves to get you all started.

The Heron
1. The Heron
Play your guitar whilst stood unflappably on one leg. May not be immediately impressive but you just watch everyone gaze on in wonderment after a full hour as your ankle fills with fluid and you get varicose veins.

2. The Turbo Who
Smash your guitar up in between bars. Why wait for the end of the song, or the show?

3. The Shave
Multi-tasking is always a welcome characteristic, so why not perform your ablutions as you perform your latest number 38 smash hit single?

The Shave
4. The Get Your Dick Stuck In The Strings
OK I've done too many of these now.

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